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Arroyo Seco Saints start Palomino World Series a year older, wiser

Baseball: Palomino team feels confident after West Zone Tournament run and is looking to grow from last year's experience.

July 31, 2013|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com
  • File Photo: Corey Dempster, left, Troy Prasertsit and the rest of the Arroyo Seco Saints are headed to the Palomino World Series for the second year in a row.
File Photo: Corey Dempster, left, Troy Prasertsit and… (Raul Roa/Staff…)

COMPTON — With his team celebrating behind him a few minutes after clinching a West Zone Tournament Palomino championship, Arroyo Seco 18U baseball Coach Aaron Milam reflected on the differences between 2012 and 2013.

Even though in both seasons Milam’s Saints clinched West Zone Tournament crowns and earned berths to the Palomino World Series, there are substantial contrasts.

“I think the biggest difference is just having experience in getting to the World Series,” Milam said. “Last year, this was all new for us, for me, we really didn’t know what to expect.”

Arroyo Seco, a Pasadena-based squad which boasts nine local players, opens double-elimination World Series action Thursday at noon on the auxiliary field at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton versus Jakarta, Indonesia, representative of the Pacific Zone.

A victory for Arroyo Seco would vault the Saints into Friday’s bracket action at 7:30 p.m. versus the winner of Central Michigan versus Bayamon, Puerto Rico. A loss would leave Arroyo Seco on the brink of elimination, facing the loser of the aforementioned Central Michigan-Puerto Rico game Friday at 10:30 a.m.

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Last year, the Saints were rudely welcomed to the international tournament by Chinese Taipei Taiwan in a 17-8 first-round loss.

The defeat snapped Arroyo Seco’s 15-game winning streak and was the first setback in any 2012 postseason tournament for the Saints, as the team romped to both PONY Southern California and West Zone regional titles.

“We didn’t lose in the zone last year, we breezed through it,” Milam said. “We thought we were going to be able to do the same thing in the World Series and Taipei showed up and they really surprised us.

“We’re not taking anything for granted this year and I think we’re more than prepared with the adversity we’ve faced this year.”

Arroyo Seco recovered from the Taipei loss to defeat both Buenaventura, Puerto Rico (7-1) and Central Michigan (5-4) in the next two second-chance bracket games before again succumbing to the Taiwanese entry, 10-0. Taipei eventually won the World Series with a 5-1 victory over the host Urban Youth Academy Team.

Invincibility isn’t an issue the Saints are talking about this season, as they’ve looked pedestrian at times, having dropped this year’s Southern California title to the Colton Nighthawks, 10-5 , on July 23 at Jackie Robinson Field.

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